Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women's contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Whatever she does, whether she is a sysadmin or a tech entrepreneur, a programmer or a designer, developing software or hardware, a tech journalist or a tech consultant, we want to celebrate her achievements.
Every week I deal with awesome technical women. You might not find their profiles on wikipedia, they may all not be so notable that their names are common on the other side of the globe, but these women are busy making technology work and also working in the communities around those technologies. I'm going to mention a few of them here.
Donna Ashelford is the current president of The System Administrators' Guild of Australia (SAGE-AU) and has been on the exec committee for many years. She does a tremendous amount of work for the Guild as well as providing vision and forward planning. In her day-job Donna is a Information Services Manager at the University of Queensland where she still dabbles in tech but mostly manages people and resources. If these weren't enough, Donna generously gives of her time to assist in fostering pets for the RSPCA and thus has a household menagerie to come home to every night.
Donna Benjamin is the president of Linux Users Victoria (LUV) and the proud founder of monthly Linux Beginner workshops for the benefit of all. She is tireless in her promotion of Linux and Open Source; jumping in to be the head organiser of linux.conf.au 2008, being involved with the yearly Software Freedom Day events in Melbourne, working closely with the Victorian Information Technology Teacher's Association (VITTA) running workshops to showcase open source, a committee member of the Open Source Industry of Australia (OSIA), organiser of the Melbourne OSIA meetings, and is now looking at writing a book! Donna is a regular speaker at all sorts of events and has even keynoted internationally. Together with her husband, Peter, Donna runs a small business Creative Contingencies providing FOSS solutions to a wide range of businesses.
Mary Gardiner, in conjunction with a small team, nutures AussieChix (which she founded) the Australian chapter of LinuxChix. She arranges AussieChix events in Sydney, has meet-ups before Sydney Linux Users Group (SLUG) to increase the number of women attending the meetings and pioneered the LinuxChix mini-conferences at linux.conf.au which have dramatically increased the number of women attending that conference. Mary is an excellent presenter and has spoken at a variety of events including both academic and non-academic conferences. When she's not promoting women in FOSS, programming in Python, or helping with code analysis, Mary is busy working to finish her PhD as a computational linguistics researcher.
Pia Waugh is probably Australia's most famous female FOSS geek. I expect she's in the top 10 famous Australian FOSS geeks. It's well deserved. Pia works tirelessly in the promotion of open source, women in open source and accessibility. She runs workshops to show teachers how to use FOSS such as Ubuntu, is the director for One Laptop Per Child Australia where she's been involved in sharing this vision with our more disadvantaged communities, is the president of Software Freedom International (who oversee the Software Freedom Day events), and was the Vice President of Linux Australia for 5 years, stepping down a year ago. Pia is a superb and entertaining speaker. Pia, together with her husband Jeff, runs a small business Waugh Partners, which provides both high level ICT planning advice as well as customised FOSS-focussed solutions.
I've only met Alice Boxhall relatively recently. Alice works for Google and is encouraged in that work to participate in events which encourage more participation and interest in IT, particularly from those of school age. This means Alice has been involved in events such as Go Girl Go for IT and also in running a 1 day micro-conf for the AussieChix held simultaneously in Melbourne and Sydney with video-teleconferencing.
There are more women I'd love to add, but I need to get some work done.
As I write this list I realise that I would struggle to compile a similar list out of my many male colleagues. All of these women are technically brilliant, but it's their passion for sharing that makes them especially wonderful. Rather that just being inspiring programmers and technologists, these women are also making a big difference to the communities they participate in by taking active roles to make things happen. This is a precious gift to these communities and one which deserves more kudos than are often given out. These women are an inspiration to me, every week.
For more write-ups of inspiring women, check out: